THE mysterious appearance of a crop formation on Wiltshire farmland has sparked a police investigation into criminal damage.

A spiral shaped circle was discovered in a field of wheat near Malmesbury last week by a furious farmer who reported it to Wiltshire Police.

The cost to farmers of such formations, as a result of crop damage, along with trespassing by so called “croppies” wishing to inspect the circle, can run into thousands of pounds.

The farmer assured officers that he had not given permission for the formation to be made.

At one stage he thought he had caught those responsible for the pattern when he spotted five adults trespassing on his land near the circle.

But it transpired that they were visiting the farm to view and take photographs of the formation which, they said, had appeared two weeks earlier.

A spokeswoman for Wiltshire Police said an officer was now investigating the incident with a view to prosecuting the offenders or offenders for criminal damage.

South West spokesman for the National Farmers’ Union David George said there was an ongoing “uneasy relationship” between farmers and crop circle artists.

He said: “Crop circles might be art in some people’s minds, but if you asked the average Wiltshire farmer, he will tell you that it is criminal damage and trespassing.

“People just turn up and do these things. It is a matter of some annoyance. There is the damage caused by the circle itself and by the making of it.

“Then on top of that, the farmer has the cost of securing his fields to prevent future incidents.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.